DOVER, Del. --- Delaware's environmental department has been sued in Superior Court by a group alleging the state is illegally restricting which types of pistol-caliber rifles can be used to hunt deer.

Delaware lawmakers passed a law in 2018 allowing people to use rifles that fire ammunition typically used in pistols to hunt deer during the appropriate seasons.

However, the Delaware State Sportsmen's Association alleges in its lawsuit that the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is barring people from using semi-automatic rifles that fire pistol-caliber ammunition, something not barred under the legislation.

DSSA President Jeff Hague said DNREC's publicly listed restrictions on pistol-caliber rifles omit semi-automatic rifles, despite the fact that such weapons are not even mentioned in the law allowing their use for deer hunting.

"DNREC has seen it fit to usurp legislative power and the Delaware constitution doesn't allow that," he said.

A DNREC spokesman said Secretary Shawn Garvin, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, could not comment on active litigation.

However, the agency has previously maintained the law was intended to assist with deer population management and that semi-automatic rifles have never been allowed for deer hunting, regardless of which type of ammunition they use.